Friday, April 4, 2014

Feature Friday #4 - Oh My Heart

Every Friday on our blog I’ll feature a game that’s doing something unique, innovative, and truly noteworthy. This isn’t just an app review; it’s an analytical look at a fresh game from the perspective of someone within the game industry. ~~~ Some games take years to design, create, and refine, most take months or weeks to polish. Very few quality products are created in a matter of days; Oh My Heart is one of those exceptions. The five-man team at Hyperbolic Magnetism built the game over a 48-hour span and took just another week to clean up and release it on the App Store. While polish and depth might not be the first words that come to mind playing this arcade-style tower defense-like, the game makes no apologies for what it is, and is successful at creating a unique, fun, and challenging experience. The pixel art was likely an easy choice as a way to save time and programming resources, but also feels consistent with the rest of the game. There’s no shortage of blood and gore in Oh My Heart, so a more realistic art style probably would have required an older age rating and limited the game’s userbase. The gore may not be entirely necessary, but as a finisher to slashing or electrocuting your enemies, at least it fits with the overall style.

Gameplay is centered around defending yourself from two types of rushing creatures. You have a tesla coil, some magical kind of slashing ability, and bombs to halt the waves of attackers trying to climb your fence and apparently cause you harm. The smaller of the two foes simply need to be electrocuted by the aforementioned coil, and they drop off the fence. Once on the ground, a well-placed bomb can knock out as many enemies as it reaches, spewing blood and bones all around. The bigger variety of baddie needs to be sliced in two, but in a Hydra-like twist, they turn into two of the little guys, causing more problems than before. As if the game wasn’t hard enough on its own, bombs cost money and happen to be the only way to actually kill enemies. This means you can’t spend all your time just stopping the onslaught, you have to catch coins as they fall from the sky or explode from the corpses of fallen enemies. The game gives you more than enough coins to make this possible, but it’s a nice added challenge so that you can’t just spam the screen with bombs. To tip the balance a bit back in the user’s favor, powerups occasionally appear in crates along with the coins. There are a ton of different powerups, and both their appearance and variety seem completely random - a nice touch so that the game never becomes too predictable. Some powerups help you defend yourself - slowmo, super tesla, etc. - others improve your ability to defend yourself - coin doubler, energy refuel. I’ve found more than once that a well-timed powerup is the only thing between life and death. The game is fairly simple, and the UI reflects that. Instead of a cluttered menu full of tutorials, the game offers only “New Game” and “Credits”. You have a few gameplay options, but they’re largely similar, so this doesn’t turn out to be a difficult decision, and the game features Gamecenter support and achievements. That’s it, nothing else to clutter the screen or the experience. Despite the simplicity, Oh My Heart doesn’t feel rushed (even though, you know, it was), and really pulls off the wacky, gory, defense experience it’s going for. ~~~ Oh My Heart is available on iOS for $0.99. It features no ads, no in-app purchases, and quite a bit of fun. You can also read the developers' own thoughts on the project. If you like it, check out other the other games by Hyperbolic Magnetism. Josh Dombro Community Manager

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